At a time when Nigerians are worried that a new electricity tariff will be unleashed on them, the National Economic Council (NEC0 last week resolved to order a forensic audit of electricity distribution companies (DisCos) since the privatization of the power sector in 2013. Nothing can be better appreciated by the consumers than this singular act.
Coming just barely a week after the federal government had threatened the DisCos to improve on their performance or risk losing their license is an indication that there are a lot of misgivings about the operations of the companies over the years. Nigerians have barley had to live with the poor nature of power supply over the years, thereby causing untold hardship in the life of the people and their businesses.
Indeed, it is no longer new that because of the poor or rather epileptic power supply over time, several companies have closed shops, thereby sending many into the unemployment market. Again, it is no longer news that power is linked to development as many families; organizations depend on power for use in their homes, businesses and offices. A fall in supply will consequently mar production, what more that sometimes communities have had to go without electricity for a long period of time; therefore, there is no way that it cannot affect businesses and by implication cost of living.
Only recently, the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir-el-Rufai said the federal government spent N17 trillion on electricity in the past three years without any significant result. This is worrisome, as Nigerians are aware that so much during the Obasanjo regime was spent without concrete output, despite the several probes by the National Assembly, no one has been brought to justice.
The issue of privatization of the old NEPA as we all know is replete with questionable operations right from the beginning. It is gratifying that a forensic audit of all bank accounts of DisCos and also that of state governments to provide details of their investments on the companies. While not lamenting the questionable character of the investments, we must be able to ensure that credible solutions are found to put the problem behind by ensuring that electricity distributions meet the target of the consumers.
Even though the work of the committee set by NEC is yet to be completed, it is heartwarming that certain indices which have hindered our development in the power sector have been unearthed. Knowing that investments made are huge and far reaching, there is no justification to allow it go down the drain. The DisCos have a responsibility to ensure that Nigerians enjoy the benefit of what they have continued to invest over time.
It is our wish that a holistic decision on the sector will be done, and rightly too; knowing that the country has come under a number of leadership from a privatization whose colour was shrouded in controversy leading to such public institutions being given at give-away prices. The records must be set right, and to give a breathing space to DisCos that have not performed to their best, which by all indication are making the consumers suffer untold hardships while they smile to their banks with their sweat.